The purpose of this study was to see whether Korean-English bilinguals' semantic systems of Korean and English are shared or separated between the two languages. In a series of picture-word interference tasks, participants were required to name the pictures in Korean or in English with distractor words printed either in Korean or English. The distractor words were any of identical, semantically related, or neutral to the picture. The response time of naming was facilitated when distractor words were semantically identical for both same- and different-language pairs. But this facilitation effect was stronger when naming was produced in their native language, which in this case was Korean. Also, inhibitory effect was found when the picture and its distractor word were semantically related in both same- and different-language paired conditions. From these results it can be concluded that semantic representations of Korean and English may not be entirely but partly overlapping in bilinguals.
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